Written by Nancy Von Minden
In June 2010, a group of motorcycle riders and their support team went on a month-long, 12,000 motorcycle mile journey to honor their buddy, Chief Petty Officer Lance Vaccaro, a Navy SEAL who gave his life for this country in 2008.
While raising money for the Navy SEAL Foundation, the group was blessed to bond with countless supporters throughout the ride, including active duty military, veterans, and Gold Star Families. The ride and their common experiences with love, duty, honor, and loss came together in a movie called Ride for Lance, which is now available as a free digital copy at www.rideforlance.com.
In June of 2019, one of those riders, veteran Navy SEAL and Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Graham, will again be leading a motorcycle team, on a two-week, 4000 mile ride from Castle Rock, CO to Leavenworth, WA and back. This is the Lineage Ride 2019, a fundraising ride with a dual mission of “Honoring our past, protecting our future.”
The ride will raise money for Able Nation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which addresses security and safety needs of our nation’s schools and churches by preparing, equipping and training those entities that could otherwise not afford it.
Jimmy’s role as a protector and instructor did not end after his 15 years as a SEAL. He next served for 7 years as Operator and Lead Instructor for an elite Federal Government Protective Detail in the war-torn Middle East, including Beirut, Lebanon, and Benghazi, returning stateside a mere two weeks before the all-too-famous horrific events at Benghazi afflicted his team. Here at home, Jimmy has continued to dedicate his life and efforts to preparing and protecting the innocent.
Throughout the nation, he has taught and trained schools, churches, and businesses in armed and unarmed solutions to threats such as terrorist attacks, active killers, adverse medical events, and other emergencies. In his home state of Colorado, he founded Able ShepherdTM, an elite self-defense program grounded in faith and dedicated to preparing its trainees in armed and unarmed methods to protect the innocents in their communities. From Able ShepherdTMcame the not-for-profit Able Nation, which recently was able to raise over $20,000 thanks to generous donors. As a result, Able Nation was able to disseminate medical supplies to over 20 school and church locations in Denver, Montana and Maine, at no cost to the recipients.
At a little coffee shop in Centennial, CO, I sat down with Jimmy to have a look into the heart of a man who has dedicated his life to protecting innocents. For anyone who knows and cares for those dedicated to servanthood, be it military, emergency responders, teachers, health care workers, and countless others, his words and sentiments may not come as a surprise, but they still remain touching, compelling, uplifting… and timely. Little did we know that the day after our talk, another active killer tragedy was to unfold in Highlands Ranch a mere 5 miles away from where we sat.
In discussing his goals for the ride, Jimmy spoke emotionally of protecting our innocent and preventing tragedy.
“I hope to stay true to the motto of the last ride, ‘We have not forgotten,’ while raising funds to prepare for a battle that lies ahead of us. The heroes that I know of already that will be on this ride will be one hundred percent dedicated to protecting children. We hope to raise funds in order to prepare before the storm.”
While tragedy makes headlines and all too often remains the focus of conversations about preparing and protecting the innocent, Jimmy hopes with this ride to make connections and foster encouragement and positivity.
“We hear a lot about bad people, people in conflict in our country. The last ride reminded me, that’s a minority. The thing that these people are defending and are fighting for are backyard barbecues, family reunions, baseball games… The good people are still the majority; you just don’t hear about it in the news… We were blessed on the last ride to meet amazing people all over the nation that were patriots and God loving people.”
Lineage Riders and support team members will be honoring and sharing stories of their heroes during fundraising and during the ride. Since he is himself considered a hero by many, it would be only natural to wonder about the person this man considers his hero. I wondered. So I asked. Originally, Jimmy said, he had certain heroes in mind. But all that changed.
“This ride means a lot more than it did to me a year ago. What I’d hoped to do is honor many heroes in my life, meaning SEALS and first responders.”
But then his dad, James Robert Graham, died unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident last year. Jimmy’s voice broke as he told me that you couldn’t know his dad without knowing that he did the Ride for Lance, and that the last time he saw his dad was when he was supporting Jimmy at one of his training events.
”My dad wasn’t a one time or one event hero; he was an everyday hero. My hope is that I can honor him and just tell the story about one of my heroes which you probably haven’t heard of.”
I asked what results Jimmy hopes to see from this ride as he appeals to a community and nation rocked repeatedly by tragedy and grappling with the question of what can be done to protect the young and innocent.
“Personally, I hope it’s motivating to me to be reminded of what I’m looking for in protecting other people. As a community, I see daily people that are surviving, but they’ve lost their sense of adventure. I hope our group is reminded that they are made for adventure and that they’re made for community, and even built for danger.”
It’s a sad truth that danger is what we face in our schools and churches. But with community, planning, and preparedness, Jimmy hopes to empower our innocents to protect themselves and each other.
To learn more about the Lineage Ride 2019 benefiting Able Nation, or to donate, please visit www.able-nation.org/events.
Follow the progress of Jimmy and his team at the Able Nation website. They would love to meet you at the stops and welcome you to ride with them.
Written by Nancy Von Minden